Archive for the ‘Tapas’ Category

Several years ago, I was taken to a hidden gem of a chiringuito (beach bar) which instead of being on ochre, sandy shores lapped by the azure blue waters of the Atlantic, was located on a raised promontory overlooking the beaches of Tarifa below.  Arriving for an early lunch, we chose to sit at a suspended table that gently swayed with the breeze, lulling us under the shade of the pine trees.

As romantic as this sounds, in hindsight, it was probably not the most convenient of places to sit at for lunch as between our crossed legs, our beach bags and cutlery there was hardly any room for the plates!  Salads and fish were ordered but there was one standout dish that I shall always associate it with that suspended table under the pine trees; atún encebollado.

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From what I could conceive at the time, it was just large cubes of fresh tuna cooked in an onion broth.  Both delicious and easy to recreate…or so I thought; having tried different versions of this at various restaurants and tapas bars.

I recently came across a youtube clip by Karlos Arguiñano, a chef from the Basque Country (Spain) who I used to watch on TV as a child, where he was preparing the dish, atún encebollado and decided it was time to give it a go myself.

I like the idea of serving this over potatoes but not chips, as happens in many tapas bars but roast potatoes just won’t do in this dish as you don’t want crunchy bits.  Pommes de terre à la boulangère, with a texture that almost dissolves into the bouillon is ideal as it mirrors the texture of the tuna.

Atún Encebollado with my cheat Pommes de Terre à la Boulangère

This dish has two parts – the tuna and the potatoes which I recommend are cooked indepedently of eachother.  Some recipes will ask for potatoes, tuna and onions be cooked simultaneously as a casserole but I’m not a fan of doing it this way.  Work with the potatoes first as this needs a longer cooking and is more forgiving should you need to do this ahead of time and won’t dry out should the dish need to sit for a while whilst you organise yourself with the tuna.  Use stock cubes/liquid bouillon to speed up the process.

Pommes de Terre à la Boulangère (my quick cheat version)

Ingredients:Potatoes-Boulangere

3 large potatoes
1 large white onion
2 garlic cloves
A sprig of thyme
2 Bay leaves
A glass of white wine/dry sherry
1/2 litre Vegetable stock
Butter
Oil
Salt and pepper

Method: 

1st: Slice the onion and sauté in oil and butter until translucent (5-10mins).
2nd: Slice the potatoes into thick slices; skin on and add to the onions. Sauté for 10mins.
3rd:  Deglaze the pan with a good glug of white wine.  Chop the garlic cloves and add to the pan with the thyme and bay leaves.  Season well and pour in the vegetable stock.
4th:Make sure the stock just covers the potatoes and simmer for 10-15mins.
5th: Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
6th: Butter the bottom and sides of an oven dish.  Add the potatoes, onion and stock and cook in the oven until the potatoes are tender and coloured on top.

Atún EncebolladoBonito-encebollado-1

Cook this once the potatoes have gone into the oven or at a later time.

Ingredients:

500g tuna
5 medium white onions
2 garlic cloves
1/2 litre of fish stock
A glass of white wine/dry sherry
1 Tspn pimentón (dulce)
1 Bay leaf
Butter
Oil
Parsley to decorate (optional)

Method:

1st: Slice the onions and sauté in oil and butter until translucent (5-10mins)
2nd: Deglaze the pan with a good glug of white wine.  Chop the garlic cloves and add to the pan with the bay leaf and the pimentón.  Season well and pour in the fish stock.
Simmer for approx 15mins making sure the pan does not dry out.
3rd: Cut the tuna steaks (I prefer using fatty tuna for a dish like this) into large chunks and add to the onions towards the end of the cooking time. Serve once cooked.

Note: If you prefer using tuna loin instead of fatty tuna, I recommend not adding this to the onions but to griddle it to your liking and then serve with the onions poured over.

Serve hot and as Karlos himself would say, “Rico, rico con fundamento.”

 

 

 

 

Start by making a mushroom risotto but make sure to ALWAYS make a little bit extra just so that you can make these easy to create, amazing arancini!

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Ingredients:

  • Leftover mushroom risotto
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • plain flour
  • breadcrumbs
  • oil for frying

Method:

 

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1st: Take the fridge cold mushroom risotto and make teaspoon sized balls.  Roll the mixture in the palm of your hands, taking care to squish back in any pieces of mushroom that stick out.

2nd: Place all the mushroom rice balls onto a baking sheet and place back in the fridge for a few moments to firm up.  Use this time to bring out the flour, beat the egg and pour breadcrumbs onto a plate that you’ll need for the next stage.

3rd: Take the rice balls out of the fridge and dredge each one through flour – shake off the excess – then pass through the beaten egg, and roll in the breadcrumbs.

4th: Chill for 10mins before deep frying them until golden.

These can be eaten as they are.  I prepared a quick aioli and chilli mayo to snack on but some favour a béchamel style sauce to dip these luscious balls into.  Either way, it’s a win-win situation: delicious mushroom risotto, amazing arancini!

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Having established a benchmark of food and drink at my parties a few years ago, what could I pull out of the bag to feed my 20+ guests this party round?  After all I can no longer get away with several bags of doritos and assorted dips!

Do I provide my standard party medly of spiced nuts, cranberry glazed cocktail sausages and pesto palmiers?  Surely that’s a more wintry repertoire.  With the weather nearing the cusp of summer a lighter menu would be more appropriate.

So when thinking of summer food what do we recall to mind?  For me it’s things like chilled gazpacho, salads, fruit and veg and bbq meat!  How could I go about trying to incorporate these ideas into my repertoire of party food?

Summer Party Menu:

strawberry cocktail

taken from youtube.com

Strawberry Champagne Cocktail

In a blender blitz strawberries, lemon juice and icing sugar until you form a strawberry puree.  Pour this into the bottom of champagne glasses and top up with the fizzy wine of your choice.

After much deliberation the following is the menu I decided on:

Ajo Blanco (aka white gazpacho), Roast vegetable cous cous salad, Cauliflower cake and Beef carpaccio with parmesan shavings.  For dessert homemade limoncello and biscotti.

Ajo BlancoAjo blanco

I followed a Sam and Sam Clark Moro recipe (having even asked them which bread to use via Twitter!) but looking online there are several sites that have similar if identical recipes.

Literally combine almonds, garlic, stale bread, olive oil, sherry vinegar and iced water in a blender and blitz until it forms a smooth-like liquid with the consistency of cream.  Chill and serve with white grape cheeks.  This needs to be served ice cold – so either put into the freezer for a while before serving or pour over ice.

Top Tip: beware the volume of liquid you put into your processor as you don’t want it pouring out of the central post as mine did!!

Roast Vegetable Cous Cous SaladRoasted-Veg-Couscous

This couldn’t be easier; roast the veggies you wish – peppers, red onions and courgettes give the best flavour for this but I also used some leftover asparagus.  Aubergine is a great veg to use in this as it is a meaty vegetable providing texture as well as colour.

When you’re ready to assemble, pour boiling water or stock over the cous cous making sure to just cover in liquid.  Cover in cling film and leave until the cous cous has absorbed all the water.  Mix the veg through and add chopped herbs – parsely, corriander and mint work best.

Cauliflower CakeCauliflower Cake

A recipe from Foodat52 from my Foodie Weekend but a quick online search has given me the exact same recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi  (Follow the Yotam hyperlink to take you to the recipe) at the Guardian online.

I’ve followed this cauliflower cake recipe several times now.  The 10 eggs in the batter make the cake soufflé in the tin.  It is decadent, delicious, moreish and full of flavour.  Ideal as a light lunch.  You could almost replace the ubiquitous lunchtime quiche with this golden cauliflower delight.

decadent, delicious, moreish

The great thing about the cauliflower cake is that it is even better the following day!

Beef CarpaccioBeef Carpaccio

As all my other dishes were unintentionally vegetarian I decided to pull out all the stops with a prime fillet of beef for the carnivores amongst us.

Make sure that the fillet is at room temperature before attempting to cook it.

Roll the prime fillet in sea salt, crushed black pepper, finely chopped rosemary and thyme (no oil).  Once the griddle is smoking hot, sear the fillet for a minute all the way round.

Then take off the heat and leave to rest.  Once the meat has rested for anything from 5 – 10mins, slice it as thinly as you can AND with the back of the knife flatten each slice as much as possible without grinding the fillet into a mush on your board.

Top Tip: Know your audience!  As there are many people attending the party who would not like to eat their meat carpaccio-style, put the end of meat into the oven.  Leave to rest and then carve this in thin slices/strips.

Lay the slices of carpaccio onto a dish and shave parmesan over.  Sprinkle with some fresh thyme and drizzle with a simple dressing of olive oil, mustard and sherry vinegar.  If serving this as a main meal accompany the carpaccio with peppery rocket leaves.

Limoncello and Biscotti

click on the hyperlink to direct you to the recipes.

If there is one recipe from the ones mentioned above that you MUST try and recreate it has to be Ottolenghi’s Cauliflower Cake.  I’m off to scrounge in the fridge for leftovers!

Enjoy the summer everyone.

The food at PURATAPA in Torreguadiaro, Spain is just incredible.

Considering that this gastro tapas bar has been here for a few years now I’m shocked that I only discovered it this weekend! The tapas are inventive, modern and classy. There is a touch of barcelona/el pais vasco about the menu. Even with the screaming child behind me when the food arrived it was as if I had been encapsulated by the Tuna Ceviche (the dish that won puratapa the best tuna dish of 2012) and cuddled by the Duck Margaret!

Mission: To try all the tapas on their menu before they change it for 2014!

A must try for anyone who is serious about food.

I can see I’m going to be visiting this place very often.